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Full text of "Bandboxes and shopping bags : in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design"

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Bandboxes and Shopping Bags 

'"" " | 

C77 
c.5 



in the collection of the 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum 



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EF. 




The Smithsonian Institution's 
National Museum of Design 




Front Cover, left: Bandbox. Paper on cardboard. U.S.A. 1930. 
Given by the Misses Hewitt. Right: Yellow Bird, Santa 
Cruz, California, paper, 15'/ 2 " x 15%", designed by Dorothy 
Edmondson, 1978. 

This page, left: Bandbox with cover. Printed paper on 
cardboard. U.S.A. c. 1830. Bluelield pink buildings. Given by 
Mrs. Frederick F. Thompson. Right: Bandbox with cover. 
Printed paper on cardboard. U.S.A., about 1830. Given by the 
Misses Hewitt. 

Opposite page, left: Bandbox with cover. Printed paper on 
cardboard. U.S.A., about 1830. Given by the Misses Hewitt. 
Right: Macys, New York, paper, 16%" x 17%". 



© 1978 by the Smithsonian 

Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress 

Catalog No. 78- 741 78 



Bandboxes and Shopping Bags 



( \ 



in the collection of the 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum 




The Smithsonian Institution's 

National Museum nf r>P S i<rn 



Foreword 

The Smithsonian Institution has frequently and loving- 
ly been referred to as "the nation's attic. " The attic has 
expanded considerably in size since the Cooper- Hewitt 
Museum became a part of the Smithsonian family. The 
range and variety of the Museum's holdings never cease 
to amaze. 

Why does the Cooper-Hewitt collect shopping bags? 
Early in the century the founders, Sarah and Eleanor 
Hewitt and their sister Mrs. James 0. Green began to 
amass a collection of bandboxes for the Museum, and 
apparently encouraged their friends to do likewise. 
These picturesque oval paperboard boxes to carry light- 
weight and easily crushed accessories and linens, which 
have been called the shopping bags of the 19th century, 
were carryalls for both sexes and all levels of society, 
making a nice parallel with today's bags. 

We are deeply indebted to the Interstate Bag Division 
of Champion International Corporation for providing 
the funds for the publication of this catalogue, which is 
one of the series documenting the Museum collections, 
as well as for a new addition to the collection, a person- 
al Cooper-Hewitt shopping bag. 

Lisa Taylor 

Director 



Bandbox and cover. 
United States, about 1840. 
Given by Mrs. Frederick F. 
Thompson. 




> --:.a*«V 



Ohe shopping bag — the child of commercial in- 
teraction in an age of consumerism — has as- 
sumed a role in contemporary life that exceeds its 
straightforward functional purpose. Created for the 
transport of relatively lightweight objects, these simple 
portable containers have been designed as a status sym- 
bol for the carrier, and as a graphic message about the 
establishment which provided it. The pedestrian carry- 
ing a bag freely provided by a chic department store, 
boutique, or even museum, signals to the world his or 
her informed and selective consumerism. At the same 
time, the bag is a portable extension of the commercial 
establishment, travelling about the city as a form of 
advertising. In so doing, it also has become a powerful 
visual presence on city streets. Usually made of paper, 
but sometimes of plastic or other materials, contempor- 
ary bags are emblazoned with an establishment's name, 
its logo, any of a number of vivid colors, striking graph- 
ic patterns, slogans, and/or messages of popular con- 
cern, to create a great variety of visual images. The 
shopping bag is closely associated with the pedestrian 
rather than the motorist. Thus, the most densely popu- 
lated pedestrian areas of our cities, such as "down- 
town" and shopping centers, often seem to be the site of 
a kinetic sidewalk exhibition of graphic design, one that 
embodies the drama and hustle-bustle of commerce. 

One antecedent of the shopping bag is the uniquely 
American band box, a rounded box with cover carried 
by both men and women. During the first half of the 
19th century, the band box saw widespread use 
throughout the culture — it was carried by everyone, its 
simple function common to all levels of society. Its pur- 
pose was to contain a traveller's lightweight linen ac- 
cessories, such as starched, pleated, and goffered col- 
lars, cuffs, neckbands, and house bonnets. Indeed, the 
name "band box" alludes especially to its role as a con- 
tainer for men's neckbands. 

The boxes were manufactured out of cardboard, and 
their creation formed a lively cottage industry. They 
were covered, not only with available swatches of wall- 
paper, but more often with papers which were created 
specially for that purpose. However, many of the peo- 
ple who produced band boxes later went into the pro- 
duction of wallpapers. Band boxes were covered with 



vivid and memorable images, and occasionally these 
were clearly advertisements. One such box, from 1823, 
is emblazoned with a proud eagle bearing a banderole 
in its beak which announces that the maker of the box 
is "Putnam and Roff," of Hartford, Connecticut. The 
images of this box are executed in a range of muted col- 
ors — light blue background, with block-printing in 
orange, white, gray, and light brown. The rim of its 
cover has the same blue background and is block- 
printed in white, pink, brown, and green. Other boxes 
depict hunters with dogs and landscapes dotted with 
houses and other buildings, and frequently commemor- 
ated current or political events, such as the building of 
the Erie Canal, Zachary Taylor, a hero of the 1846 
Mexican war, or John Tyler's campaign. 

araphic design, technology, and social change 
have coalesced to produce the contemporary 
shopping bag. In the late 19th and early 20th 
centuries, affluent people — the carriage trade — didn't 
actually carry home their own packages. Servants were 
sent to collect purchases from a store, or the items were 
sent to the home by messenger. In the early decades of 
this century, the delivery of packages to the home be- 
came an artfully composed ceremony. The delivery 
van, the liveried staff and the packaging all were 
designed to reflect the quality-consciousness of the 
store. Obviously, some stores, and by extension, their 
delivery systems, were more prestigious then others. A 
new element of status revolved around which delivery 
truck drove up one's driveway. The status-laden image 
of a "carriage trade," or a select clientele, has persisted, 
even though the army of service people required to ac- 
tually fulfill such an image has by and large disap- 
peared. The shopping bag thus appeared in our own 
more egalitarian contemporary culture as a genuine 
need. The old-fashioned delivery boy has been replaced 
by a bag that embodies many of the same intimations of 
status. Carrying the smart bag has become the contem- 
porary equivalent, although considerably diminished, 
of the smart delivery van conspicuously parked in front 
of the house. 

The technology to produce an inexpensive shopping 
bag is relatively new. The bag with a handle attached 
icheaply and easily by machine has existed only since 



1933. Before then, bagmaking involved a number of 
separate hand operations. For example, the handle of a 
bag was stapled to a piece of cardboard which was then 
glued to the insides of a bag. 

The second technological development which allowed 
the bag of today to become a reality was the widespread 
use of the flexographic printing technique. This tech- 
nique involves the use of rubber plates which are cheap- 
er to produce than gravure plates, and which allow 
large areas of solid color to be printed on the uneven 
surface of heavy-duty paper. As recently as the mid- 
1930's, the designs and typography were hand-carved 
into rubber plates. Now, designs of any sort can be 
reproduced by the process of photo-etching. By 1936, 
one on-line machine could fabricate a complete bag and 
print on it any design. By the late 1930's the paper bag 
with a handle was sufficiently inexpensive to produce so 
that a store could view such an item as a "giveaway." 
Even with these pivotal inventions, the manufacture of 
paper bags remains a process that requires both the in- 
volvement of machines and of people, where the mach- 
ine handle the fragile paper so gently as to seem human, 
and where the humans are required to be so efficient as 
to appear mechanized. 

Dhe memorable bags of today are also a by-pro- 
duct of what many people regard as a revolution 
in graphic design which occurred in the 1960's. 
All at once, or so it seemed, many ordinary products of 
everyday life — record jackets, book covers, menus, 
shopping bags, and packaging of all kinds — sprouted 
new and vivacious graphic qualities. The surfaces and 
shapes of a bag came to be regarded by the designer as 
an opportunity to create an exciting visual composition. 
No longer was it enough to print merely the name of a 
store on the bag. The surfaces of a bag could portray 
the image, tone and quality of a store, institution, or 
product through such various devices as the use of dis- 
creet, elegant typography, or lush, seductive, pictorial 
illustrations. In fact, this supposed graphic revolution 
of the 1960's was part of a larger phenomenon. The 
20th century is really the first time that a great deal of 
art has been directed towards public display and for 
public attention and approval. This is exemplified by 
posters, advertising, packaging, and shopping bags. 



The phenomenon occurs in two ways. One, recognized 
art and artists are used to attract people and as a means 
of advertising. Two, art is made more accessible to the 
public. In particular, the work of new artists is brought 
to public attention by having it appear in the public do- 
main in these new forms. 

The collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum is formed 
primarily with regard to this last aspect of the contem- 
porary shopping bag, as a form of portable graphic art. 
Eleven categories of bag design have been noted. Of 
these 10 portray different approaches to graphic design, 
and one explores the use of unusual materials and 
shapes. 

Many bags use a simple overall color. The color itself is 
the most memorable aspect of the bag — black, dove 
gray, vivid red, burgundy, forest green, navy blue, col- 
ors which connote a rich luxury and carefully studied 
and understated elegance. Often the name of the store 
will be displayed simply in white or a soft color. But a 
few bags are like Halston's hallmark red bag, and 
reveal no other identifying mark. These bags are the 
design products of an especially confident commercial 
establishment. 

Beyond the use of a simple color, bags employ a compo- 
sition of words and/or abstract elements such as geo- 
metric shapes, or lines; such composition implicitly 
connotes the design awareness of the store itself. 

Many organizations decorate their shopping bags with 
only a logo, or with a combination of logo and names. A 
logo is a design based on typography or abstract forms 
which is intended to act as a succinct and familiar sub- 
stitute for the more conventional proper name of an 
organization. The design may vary in size from quite 
small to one that encompasses the entire bag surface. 
Bags of this sort are usually designed to be part of a 
more larger program aimed at the coordination of all 
aspects of the visual image of the organization. 

A logo, initial, or name can form the basis for the crea- 
tion of a pattern to cover the entire surface of the bag. 
This ornamental use of an identifying mark is not 
unrelated to the use of designer initials in the creation of 
a patterned fabrics for bed linens, clothing and personal 



Other shopping bags employ pure pattern created in a 
more traditional manner from repetitive abstract motifs 
rather than from any specific reference to the name or 
initials of an establishment. However, such a pattern 
can connote aspects of the store. The bag for Julio, for 
instance, makes reference to the interior setting of the 
shop itself, repeating on the bag the pattern of small 
white tiles used throughout the interior. 

Some stores and museums have used their bag as a 
medium of pictorial storytelling about their products 
and exhibitions. A very famous bag, now virtually a 
collector's item, is the one embellished with an Andy 
Warhol image of a soup can. The bag, used to an- 
nounce an exhibition of pop art paintings, was like one 
of the actual paintings. 

Perhaps the most ebullient bags are those that are pure- 
ly pictorial, and which emphasize a striking and fetch- 
ing visual image, occasionally at the expense of a con- 
ventional verbal identification. 

A related category is the use of the traditional or nostal- 
gically old-fashioned pictorial image, which can range 
from a fine engraving to an example of the illustrator's 
art. 

Some bags are amusing or tongue-in-cheek conceits. A 
bag with a drawing of a bag on it, or a bag pretending 
to be a purse is making an ironic comment on bag im- 
agery. 

The weeks leading up to Christmas are the most intense 
period of the year for commercial sales, and thus it is 
natural that stors have developed a whole range of spec- 
ial holiday and seasonal shopping bags as an extension 
of the idea of gift wrapping. 

The last category includes those bags which are made of 
an unusual material, and/or in an unusual size. Includ- 
ed is a bag which is very, very small in which to carry 
home tiny treasures and one which is uniquely shaped 
to carry rolls of wallpaper. Also included are bags made 
of burlap, vinyl, and netting. 

Richard B. Oliver 

Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Design 



Bandbox. 

Paper on cardboard. U.S.A., 

1830. Given by the Misses 

Hewitt. 



Bandbox, "The Old Capitol in 

Washington." 

Printed in reds, browns and 

white on yellow ground. 

United States, about 1830. 

Given by Mrs. J. 0. Green. 



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Halston. Ltd., New York, 
paper, 12'A " x 16" 

Kron Chocolatier, New York, 
paper, 9 3 / 4 " x 7% " 



Ambienti, New York, paper, 
15%" x 16" 




Diane Love, New York, 
paper, 15% " x 75 7 / 8 " 

Untitled black w. white 
Japanese characters, Tokyo, 
oaper, 12V 2 " x 12 '/ 2 " 



Gump's San Francisco, paper, 
15% " x 15%" 

Andre Oliver, New York, 
paper, 15'/ 2 " x 16", designed 
by Steve Rogin 



Steuben Glass, New York, 
paper, 9% " x 7% " 

Crouch and Fitzgerald, New 
York, paper, 1714" x /5 7 / 8 " 




DIANE 
LOVE 



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Logo 



Vuokko. Helsinki, Finland, 
paper, 13" x 9% " 

Royal Copenhagen Porcelain. 
New York, paper, 15'4 " * 13" 

Roots Shoes, New York, 
paper, 13% " x 8% " 



Valentino, New York, paper, 
9%" x 7V 4 ", 10%" x 16", 1970 

Godiva Chocolatier, New 
York, paper, 9% " x 7% ". 
1970 






Valentino 



Charrette. New York, plastic, 
18" x 13" 



Design Research, New York, 
paper, 15 l /2" x 13" 



Juschi, New York, paper. 
1114" x 14 l A "• designed by 
Steve Lawrence with Ilene 
Rich 





Logo as Pattern 



Strawbridge & Clothier, 
Philadelphia, paper, 15" x 19" 

Eastern Airlines, paper, 
16V x 13" 



Marimekko, Helsinki, plastic, 
19'4" x 14V 




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narim 
marim 

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Mark Cross, New York, 
paper, 15'/ 4 " x 12% ", 7970 



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Cartier, New York, paper, 
16%" x 7%" 

Gimbels East, New York, 
paper, ll'/ s " x 15 7 / s " 







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Julio, New York, designed by 
Modern Art Graphics, paper, 
10% " x 15% " 



Estee Lauder Cosmetics, 
paper, 9% " x 7% " 

Lederer de Paris, New York. 
paper, 19" x 13". 1970 









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Deltnan Shoes, New York, 
paper, 13 3 4" x 8% " 

Azuma, New York, paper, 
13% " x 8% ", 1970 



Haibara. Tokyo, paper, 12 '/ 2 
x 12'4 " 

Sample House, Dallas, Texas 
paper, 9% " x 7% " 




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"Campbell's Tomato Soup,' 
Andy Warhol, Institute of 
Contemporary Art, Boston, 
19'4" x 17" 



Conran's, New York, printed 
in England, paper, 

15^" x 12'/ 4 " 








*^m« amBVffOHAHVWTSO^ * 



conran's 



Great Britain France 



Bdgje America 




take-away put-away 

aemporter lerangemene 
meetenemen rangschikking 



lechoix 
keuze 




chairs children floors deJverte 

leschaises tesenfants testapb b&vrafcon 

Idnderen vfaerbedekking levering 



Nikon, New York, printed in 
Japan, paper, ISV2 " x 11% " 



Michael C. Fina, New York, 
paper, 9%" x 7% " 



Susan Bennis, Warren 
Edwards Shoes, New York, 
printed in Italy, paper, M 1 /^" 
x 5% ", designed by Miguel 
Sanchez photo by Richard L. 
Shaefer 




"Sundown, a joyous sunset 
behind two lonely weeds," 
The Emporium, Cheyenne, 
Wyoming, plastic, 17 % " x 
15% ". designed by Peter Max 



Aviance Cosmetics, paper, 

9%"x7%" 



16 



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Once Upon a Quilt, San 
Francisco, paper, 9%" x 7% ", 
15'/ 2 " x 13" 



Boudin Sourdough French 
Bread, San Francisco, paper, 
16%" x 13V 

"Winter Festival," Aramis 
Cosmetics, paper, IQV2" x 16" 




17 





Graphic 

"Love is Sweet" Japan, 
plastic and paper, 11>4" x 
12% ". This bag was used to 
hold the gifts given to the 
guest at a wedding in 1972. 
Traditionally such gifts were 
housed in "Furoshki" {cloth) 
but it is not uncommon at 
present to see the Furoshki 
package housed in a paper 
shopping bag 



Untitled, white w. black in 
middle w. multi-colored 
Japanese symbol, Tokyo, 
paper, 12" x 12% " 




18 





Ginza, Matsuya, Tokyo, 
paper, 15>/ 2 " x 12 'A" 



Ginza Hakubotan, Tokyo, 
paper, 12%" x 10 7 / a " 




Graphic 

"Flammarion." Librairie du 
Centre National d'Art et de 
Culture Georges Pompidou, 
Paris, plastic, 16>/ 2 " x 14'/ 2 " 



Mario Valentino, New York, 
printed in italv. paper, 

17 'A" x9% 

London Underground Map, 
plastic, lT'k" x 14%", designed 
bv Paul E. Garbutt 



20 




!ibro;rie 

du 

cent'e national dart et de cuiture 

georges pompidou 

plateau beaubourg 

oaris 75004 

tel. 27712.33 



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Levy's, Phoenix, Arizona, 
paper. 18%" x 17%" 



"Brazil Fortnight," Neiman- 
Marcus, Texas, paper, IOV2 ' 
x 16", 1978. This graphic 
reproduces Rio di Janeiro's 
sidewalk pattern. 



Emanuel Ungaro Parallele, 
New York, paper, 
10%" x 15V 




emanuel ungaro parage pans 
new york, housTon, deTroiT 



Bloomingdale's, New York, 
paper, I6V2 " x 12", 
photograph by Marco 
Glaviano 



Seibu, Tokyo, paper, 15%" x 
I21/2" 



Bloomingdale's, New York, 
paper, 16 l / 2 " x 12", illustrated 
by Michaele Vollbracht. 1970 






Camouflage, New York, 
paper, 14" x 11". illustrated 
by Mel Odom 

Bloomingdale's, New York, 
paper, 16'/ 2 " x 11%", 1978, 
illustrated by Antonio Lopez 

Azuma. N.Y.. paper, 13'A" * 
8H" 



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Pictorial 

Bemies, Calif., paper, 1514" 
x 12% ", designed by Katha 
Dalton 



Fiorucci, New York, printed 
in Italy, paper, 21 1 / 2 " x 19'/ 2 ' 




24 



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Bernies, Calif., paper, 
15!A"xl2%" 



Fiorucci, New York, printed 
in Italy, paper, 18'4 " * 19%" 

Niagara Germany, plastic 
16%" x 13%" 




25 





Historic/Traditional 

"United States Patent Office. 
paper, 19V 2 " x 15%" 

Brentano's Bookshops, New 
York, paper, 1714" x 13", 
1970 




McCreedy & Schreiber, New 
York, paper, 17% " x 1614" 





mcCREESy 2 




Sotheby Parke Bernet, New 
York, paper, 18" x 16J4"< 
1970 



Taken from a poster. Troupe 
de Mile, Eglantine, by Henri 
de Toulouse-Lautrec, Sherry- 
Lehmann, Inc., New York, 
paper, 12'/ 2 " x 10", 1970 

Taken from an Eighteenth 
centurv Design, paper, 
17" x h" 



>**»§* ™ — ■ 



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SamEBVBVRKEDERlNET 




Conceit 



"Tweed Jacket," 
Bloomingdale's New York, 
paper, 16 l / 2 " x 12", illustrated 
by Michaele Vollbracht, 1970 



Bloomingdale's, New York 
paper, 16 14 " x 12" 



s 





"Mock Bronc Busters" 
Saddlebag", paper, 8" x 7" 



Gucci, New York, paper, 9"'k" 
x8%", 15'/ 2 " x 16", 1970 

Roberta di Camerino, New 
York, paper, 10%" x 16", 1970 




Christmas 

"Christmas 1977," Neiman- 
Marcus, Texas, paper, 
15'/ 2 "xl6" 

"Especially at Christmas," 
Altman's, New York, paper, 
I51/2" x 13", 1970 



"Christmas at Sakowitz," 
Sakowitz, Texas, paper, 
15V2 a x 16" 

"The Old Woman in the 
Shoe, Altman's is the 
Christmas Store," Altman's, 
New York, paper, 16" x 13". 
1970 



"Come, let us believe in magic "Merry Christmas," Bailey, 



again, Bloomingdale's, New 
York, paper, 16% " x 12", 
1970 

"Illustration of Santa Claus" 
by Thomas Nast, from 
Harper's Weekly, January 1, 
1881," paper, 19V x 15%" 



Banks & Biddle, Philadelphia, 
paper, 15% " x 12% " 

"Wrapped Package," Bonwit 
Teller, New York, paper, 
I51/2" x 13" 




Unusual Shapes 



Sonia Rykiel, Paris, vinyl, 
13%" x I71/4" 




■ SnLJ 



NiAFT/Kir - 



sAsVSjsne .<*a sa 



Laura Ashley, New York, 
plastic, wallpaper roll bag, 

12% " x 28V2 " 






Kalso Earth Shoe, New York, 
burlap, 17% " x 13" 

Prohibition, Paris, paper, 

11%" x5%" 







m 



31 




Hand-painted bag, India, 
paper, 4 3 / 4 " x 37a" 



Jungle Jap, Paris, paper, 

18 1/2 " x 21 " 



Mesh Bag, France, string, 
Sacha, Paris, canvas, 

15'A" x 171/s" 




32 





r 




Macy's, New York, plastic, 
17" x 16" 




Catalog design 
Lorraine Wild 

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Cooper- Hewitt Museum 




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2 East 91st St. 

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